Input of National Education Board vital

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BENJAMIN SOGOMO

By BENJAMIN SOGOMO
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The recent dispute between then-Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and the Teachers Service Commission regarding her decision to lower entry qualifications to teacher training college and eventual employment of the graduates exposed the missing input of the National Education Board (NEB) in policy decisions.

The ongoing disagreement between the Kenya National Union of Teachers and the TSC on in-service training of teachers in preparation for the full implementation of the competency-based curriculum (CBC) will serve to expose the NEB further due to its abdication of its advisory role in formulation of education policy.

This brings to question the quality of advice that the CS receives and Knut’s preference to use its membership to push arguments rather than exhaust the channels through the law and regulatory bodies.

On the face of it, the case of teacher qualifications is straightforward. Section 237(3)(a) of the Constitution empowers the TSC to “review the standards of education and training of persons entering the teaching service”.

For the then-CS to purport to tinker with the college entry points without TSC involvement was a clear breach of the Constitution.

Her action has led to the unprecedented situation in which well over 3,000 trainees have had to be discontinued from training that they had undertaken for well over six months.

The damage to them in terms of time, financial and other resources is difficult to quantify. They will also find it extremely difficult to trust even senior officials of the Education ministry in any other matter.

That Kenya requires better qualified teachers is not in question. The country should attempt to learn from best practices elsewhere.

In Japan, the most qualified candidates are recruited into the teaching profession and the salary of a university professor and a primary school teacher are almost at par.

One wonders whether the ministry’s strategic plan had the provision for lowering the standards of teacher training and, if so, why and how it would act contrary to the law.

The Basic Education Act 2012 established the NEB. This board is mandated to “advise the Cabinet secretary, the department of education and related departments on policy matters in respect to the collaboration with the Quality Assurance and Standards Council, Teachers Service Commission and other stakeholders to promote standards in basic education and training”.

This was the body to have made its input in this matter clearly and concisely.

One would then expect that NEB would be advising the CS on matters such as the level of user charges (school fees) for secondary school students, cost-effective establishment of primary and secondary schools, optimal utilisation of teachers and the necessary curriculum changes arising from globalisation and technological changes, among other subjects arising from contemporary and critical challenges and opportunities in education.

Education stakeholders may wish to find out whether the NEB is constituted as required by law and, if so, when it last met and what kind of advice it has been giving to the CS.

The input of NEB in education policy matters is critical and must be incorporated in future decisions. The ministry cannot afford even one more blunder.



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